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POSTED: 30 JUNE 2010

Mr Freezy, by Hamish Fletcher, Chris Kohn, Tamara Rewse & Sam Routledge

Arena Theatre Company & Sydney Theatre Company | Wharf 2, Walsh Bay, Sydney | Until 10 July

Arena Theatre Company has a well deserved reputation for delivering high-quality work for young people, and Mr Freezy is a favourite from their repertoire. Instead of recreating conventional narrative, director Chris Kohn and his ensemble use images, puppets and play as the basis for this work.

Foodstuff, utensils and packaging are animated and used as a springboard to share the personalities and experiences of Mr Freezy’s ice-cream van.

Scoopy is an ice-cream scoop whose home is at risk, so he sets out on a quest to Prong City to save Mr Freezy. The pandemonium that results is mad and messy.

Phil McInnes, Tamara Rewse and Sam Routledge animate the personalities, voice and emotions of a scoop, a scraper, a peeler and other such kitchen apparatus. There are lots of laughs and surprises and some silliness as our imaginations get a real workout.

Director and co-creator Chris Kohn has discarded any virtue in cleanliness. Instead we have chaos and mischief.

Sound and light are used more than dialogue to engage and hold the attention of the audience by introducing ideas and then repeating them in a range of forms. The show unfolds slowly with well directed moments of surprise and suspense, mostly to do with making a lot of mess!

Staging appears simple but is cleverly executed, with the van providing its own compact, operational, vaudeville theatre. Everything in it converts to backdrops, stage lights and special effects.

The skilful employment of object theatre should remind young audiences and their carers of the richness, simplicity and resourcefulness that can be child’s play.

This is a larger-than-life story in which everyone learns to work together to defeat a common enemy, allowing some important lessons to be interspersed among the rapid-paced fun.

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